This is a prequel ficlet for the story "The Day the Music Lives." This takes place approximately a year before events in that story.

In honour of Sherlock and John's 221B Baker Street, this is a 221b story, written in 221 words, with the last beginning with "b".

This is dedicated to the man with the guitar, the glasses, and the hiccup.

Only Learning the Game

"Hearts that are broken, and love that's untrue..."

The crime scene gave up its secrets without need for a consulting detective. As Sherlock might've said, any idiot could read the story there.

A classic one: love, infidelity, jealousy, murder-suicide.

Lestrade felt his usual weary regret for the tragic deaths, but the memory of the couple wouldn't haunt him.

Their seven-year-old nephew, the collateral damage of this most private war, was quite another matter.

God, so young.

Not like Lestrade, grey and worn.

He lingered to watch the little body loaded for its journey to the morgue.

Somehow Donovan procured both coffee and a cigarette, which she pressed into Lestrade's hands without comment or judgment. She understood.

That night, after staring into the fridge for mindless minutes, he decided to forego the leftover takeaway. In shirtsleeves and bare feet, he poured himself whisky and reached for his guitar.

Facing the reality of a slain child never grew any easier. He didn't want to know who or what he'd be, if it ever did.

"C'mon, Buddy." A plea for comfort to a benevolent ghost. "You and me."

Lestrade's fingers found the chords, familiar as a homecoming.

His rasping voice offered up lyrics, half-spoken and half-sighed, like a confession.

"Feeling so sad, and you're all alone and blue..."


Notes: The title and lyrics come from "Learning the Game," as written and performed by Buddy Holly.

The sequel story is "The Day the Music Lived."

Vital Stats: Originally written in September 2011.